The Northern Hues
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The Northern Hues


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The best kept secret in music


"Sound Bites 5/2"

Sound Bites 5/2

May 02, 2005

The Northern Hues
The Northern Hues EP
TWR Records

The debut EP from the Philadelphia-based group The Northern Hues cannot be easily assimilated into any genre. It seems only fair to call the band experimental rock. Though the influence of bands like REM, The Verve, and even Pink Floyd can be heard, The Northern Hues has created a sound all its own.The spacey, dream-like and spiritual vocals of lead singer Dan Avidan fits in perfectly with the stoner jam band sound backing him up. Driven by the electronic sounds of effect-ridden guitars, the music on the EP seems incapable of being contained in any known space. Although the originality and ambition of The Northern Hues is commendable, after the music drifts back down from the sky, it can land close to boring.

The best track on the EP is probably the first, "Arrows." Opening with two thin chords strummed in a fashion that might mislead listeners to expect something like The White Stripes, the song later takes form as a perfect precedent to the rest of the EP.

The Northern Hues has made a worthwhile EP and has established itself as a band to look forward to in the future.

Andrew Payton - The Towerlight Online

"Creative Loafing"

The Northern Hues - A Philly based sextet with a shimmering, reverb-friendly sound in which traces can be found of latter-day Verve, Wish-era Cure, and early REM : bands all name-checked in the press packet. But the most obvious reference point : Gomez : is noticeably absent from the PR material even though Dan Avidian's voice is practically a vocal doppelganger of the muscular Gomez vocalists. Still, their self-titled six-song EP clearly suggests there's something above the run-of-the-mill here, and the standout cut, "Close Your Eyes," which was recorded live at New York's Pianos, bodes well for the live act. With Bibis Ellison & Gina Young. The Evening Muse (Schacht) - Schacht

"Birmingham Weekly"

The Colors Of The Sound
Philadelphia’s Northern Hues bring back synth-pop

by Brent Thompson
The Northern Hues
Headlining: John P. Strohm. Opening: Greg Nobles.
WorkPlay • 380-4082 • $10

Alex Yaker took a leap of faith two years ago in relocating from Birmingham to Philadelphia. Convinced his music career could blossom in the Northeast, the multi-instrumentalist quickly found the musicians that would help him form The Northern Hues.

“The move came about because I had some family I was close to and I was trying to get close to the New York market – I’m actually a sound engineer – and Philly seemed like a good place to do it,” Yaker says, speaking by phone from his home. “Shortly after I moved, I joined a couple of guys that were just messing around. It wasn’t really a band yet.”

Yaker will be back in Birmingham Saturday night when the sextet performs at WorkPlay in a double-bill show with local favorite John P. Strohm.

Recently, The Northern Hues released an eponymous EP, a six-track disc that displays the band’s broad range of influences. The band’s sound relies heavily on Yaker’s keyboards in a style reminiscent of the British synth-pop bands of the 1980s. Think of an updated soundtrack to Pretty In Pink or Sixteen Candles and you begin to get the idea.

“I am personally very much influenced by a lot of melodic bands,” Yaker says. “We try to incorporate a lot of the melodic sound with really nice harmonies. A lot of it is influenced by Brit-pop – The Verve, New Order and some of those bands. A lot of it also came from the early ‘90s American indie bands. We combine our own influences and try to meet in the middle somewhere.”

When asked about his new local music scene, Yaker says that nearby New York City looms large over his new hometown.

“The music scene in Philadelphia is interesting,” he says. “The scene lives in the shadows of New York. A lot of bands that start initially in Philadelphia eventually move to New York to get better exposure and to get a better chance of making it. We’ve been trying to play in Philly and surrounding cities, but we’ve been concentrating mostly on the New York scene.”

Like many upstart bands, The Northern Hues spend much of their time on promotion and the search for record label support. The combination of hard work and technology is allowing the band to expand its market and fan base.

“We’ve been promoting ourselves a lot,” Yaker says. “Recently, we’ve been working with a PR company that’s helping to promote us and get us shows, interviews and press. All of us have done work as far as booking ourselves and getting exposure on the internet and around the country. A couple of labels are interested in what we’ve done, and hopefully that will materialize.”

In addition to his homecoming and the opportunity to showcase his new band, Yaker is looking forward to a reunion with Strohm.

“John and I met a while ago. I was playing with a different band at City Stages, and he approached me and asked if I was interested in playing keyboards with him,” Yaker remembers. “That was back in 1999. In 2000, I joined his band and we did a lot of playing together. We did a two-week tour in Spain and did some recording together.”

Given the release of the CD and the desire for added exposure, The Northern Hues will spend the remainder of the year touring and writing new material.

“We’ve had some time off, and we managed to write four new songs we’re going to be featuring on this tour,” Yaker says. “They’re not on the EP, and we’re excited to be playing them. We’re looking forward to recording them in the near future. This summer, we’re going to Boston, Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and then to the Midwest in the fall.”

In light of the recording industry’s well-documented troubles, Yaker sees a tremendous opportunity for bands such as his to reach listeners globally through the use of modern technology.

“I think it’s an exciting time right now for bands,” he says. “As internet use has been growing, a lot of bands are promoting themselves through websites and special sites where people around the world can sample their music. You can spread yourself to a much larger audience now. For that reason, there’s a better chance of being heard around the country or even around the world.” - Brent Thompson

"Birmingham News"

'I miss iced tea; I miss grits'
Philly's Northern Hues boasts a Birmingham connection.
Friday, May 13, 2005

[ NORTHERN HUES, WITH JOHN P. STROHM AND GREG NOBLES, Saturday, 8 p.m., WorkPlay, 500 23rd St. South, $10, 380-4082 or]

If you heard the name but didn't see it in print, you might be tempted to think of this band as the Northern Hughs.

That moniker would suit a novelty group - a bunch of guys singing do-wop ditties in Alaska, perhaps, or barreling through surf-punk polkas in Wisconsin.

The Northern Hues, however, are musicians of an entirely different stripe. All six members of the Philadelphia troupe are on a serious mission: to create original songs that show off the colors of their voices and instrumentation.

Sonic beauty is one goal. Catchy lyricism is another.

"We're big fans of New Wave and Britpop," says Alex Yaker, a former Birmingham player who handles keyboards, guitar and bass for the group. "We started out very mellow, with these kind of slow, dreamy vocals. Then it got a little more rockin'."

Yaker, 29, joined the Northern Hues in 2003, after growing up here and performing in bands such as Tonal Vision and Cutgrass. He moved to Pennsylvania two years ago to work as a sound engineer.

"But I miss Southern hospitality. I miss iced tea. I miss grits," Yaker says.

He'll probably have his fill this weekend; the Northern Hues are booked at WorkPlay on Saturday, sharing a bill with Greg Nobles and John P. Strohm.

Strohm, a Birmingham lawyer and former member of the Blake Babies, recruited the Northern Hues for the show. He and Yaker are friends and music collaborators - in fact, Strohm recently asked his pal for help during some brief, intense recording sessions in New York.

"We literally spent three days recording 12 or 13 songs," Yaker says.

He laughs when asked if this was a barter situation - studio aid for Strohm, legal advice for Yaker's band.

"We exchange services that way," Yaker says.

His technical know-how and do-it-yourself attitude have been valuable assets to the Northern Hues, which took full advantage of those skills for its debut EP. Yaker mixed (and remixed) six tracks for the self-titled disc, released in December on the indie label Tailwhip Records.

"I'm very picky and kind of a perfectionist," he says. "I know what I want things to sound like, and I know how to get there."
- Mary Colurso

"The Northern Hues EP"

Mixing Brit-pop with the sounds of Athens-based R.E.M., Northern Hues will appeal to most anyone that enjoyed alternative rock in the mid ‘90’s. A sextet, Northern Hues has plenty of voices and influences and allows them to collide altogether for an interesting collage of sound. While firmly rooted in pop, they have their indie tendencies especially on tracks like “Shine” with its glorious bass tone and streak-of-genius synths. A very worthwhile EP indeed.

- J-Sin -


The Nortern Hues EP, 2004

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The Northern Hues, a Philadelphia-based sextet, was created in early 2002 by guitarists Aron Brand and Jeff Rains. Vocalist Dan Avidan joined the two shortly thereafter, writing songs for many months in North New Jersey. In the Spring of 2003 the band broadened to include multitalented Alex Yaker.

Incorporating an experimental melodic sound faithful to the British Pop/Rock and New wave, as well as the American indie-rock scene, The Northern Hues will appeal to fans of The Verve, New Order, and R.E.M. They are currently playing in the Philadelphia and NYC metro areas. Their debut self-titled EP was released in December 2004.

Past shows include appearances at Pianos (NYC), Sin-e` (NYC), Luna Lounge (NYC), Don Hill's TISWAS (NYC), Northstar Bar, the Khyber, Grape Street Pub, Pontiac Grille, Doc Watson's, the Fire, the 5 Spot and other venues. The Northern Hues have shared the stage with New York's Elefant, Philadelphia's Hail Social, Scottland's Cosmic Rough Riders, Los Halos, the White Hassle, Y.O.U. and comedian Todd Barry.